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Why is Android an easy target for malware infections?

Posted: 16 Feb 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Android? cybercrime? cyber-attack? hacker?

In contrast, the report said that less than 1 per cent of infections come from iPhone and Blackberry smartphones. The report, however, quickly added that this data doesn't prove that iPhones are immune to malware.

The Motive Security Labs report cited findings by Palo Alto Networks in early November. The Networks discussed the discovery of WireLurker vulnerability that allows an infected Mac OS-X computer to install applications on any iPhone that connects to it via a USB connection. User permission is not required and the iPhone need not be jail-broken.

News stories reported the source of the infected Mac OS-X apps as an app store in China that apparently affected some 350,000 users through apps disguised as popular games. These infected the Mac computer, which in turn infected the iPhone. Once infected, the iPhone contacted a remote C&C server.

According to the Motive Security Labs report, a couple of weeks later, FireEye revealed Masque Attack vulnerability, which allows third-party apps to be replaced with a malicious app that can access all the data of the original app. In a demo, FireEye replaced the Gmail app on an iPhone, allowing the attacker complete access to the victim's email and text messages.

Spyware on the rise

It's important to note that among varieties of malware, mobile spyware is definitely on the increase. According to Motive Security Labs, "Six of the mobile malware top 20 list are mobile spyware." These are apps used to spy on the phone's owner. "They track the phone's location, monitor ingoing and outgoing calls and text messages, monitor email and track the victim's web browsing," according to Motive Security Labs.

Impact on mobile payment

For consumers and mobile operators, the malware story hits home hardest in how it may affect mobile payment. McNamee wrote in his blog:

  • The rise of mobile malware threats isn't unexpected. But as Google Wallet, Apple Pay and others rush to bring us mobile payment systems, security has to be a top focus. And malware concerns become even more acute in the workplace where more than 90% of workers admit to using their personal smartphones for work purposes.

Fixed broadband networks

The Motive Security Labs report didn't stop at mobile security. It also looked at residential fixed broadband networks. The report found the overall monthly infection rate there is 13.6 per cent, "substantially up from the 9% seen in 2013," said the report. The report attributed it to "an increase in infections by moderate threat level adware."

Why is this all happening?

The short answer to why this is all happening today is that "a vast majority of mobile device owners do not take proper device security precautions," the report said.

Noting that a recent Motive Security Labs survey found that 65 per cent of subscribers expect their service provider to protect both their mobile and home devices, the report seems to suggest that the onus is on operators. "They are expected to take a proactive approach to this problem by providing services that alert subscribers to malware on their devices along with self-help instructions for removing it," said Patrick Tan, General Manager of Network Intelligence at Alcatel-Lucent, in a statement.

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